Cumin, also is known as Cuminum cyminum, is an annual flowering plant belonging to Family Apiaceae. It is an important culinary spice and forms an essential part of North Indian curries. It is used extensively for its rich aroma and positive health effects on the immune system and digestive system.
It is grown in hot areas from the East Mediterranean to East India. The seeds are oblong shaped, coarse, and brown to dark brown in colour. They are widely used in whole or powdered form during cooking. The rich aroma of the seeds is attributed to Cuminaldehyde, a bioactive compound, which also has several medicinal properties.
Cumin in Ayurveda
Cumin is considered to be an important medicinal herb and dietary spice in Ayurveda. It pacifies Vata Dosha and Kapha Dosha in specific and also balances Pitta Dosha. It has a heating effect on the body, hence may aggravate Pitta Dosha, when consumed in excess.
It is a potent digestive and stomachic herb and forms part of several Ayurvedic formulations and home remedies for indigestion.
- Taste or Rasa: Pungent and Hot
- Actions: Stimulant, Carminative, Galactagogue, Diuretic
Constituents and Nutrition
- Its fruits and seeds are rich in volatile oil. They mainly contain alpha-pinene, limonene and 1, 8 cineole. These oils are effective in the treatment of several health disorders.
- It contains non-volatile compounds such as tannins, oleoresin, mucilage, and gum.
- The seeds are very good source of monounsaturated fat, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and protein.
- It is rich source of Vitamins as: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
- It contains Minerals as: Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium and Zinc.
Uses and Consumption of Cumin
- It is used to treat diseases like hoarseness, jaundice, dyspepsia and diarrhoea.
- A tea prepared from Cumin Seeds along with Carom Seeds, Fennel Seeds, and Fenugreek Seeds is given to the new mother in India. It helps to cleanse the uterus, pacify aggravated Vata Dosha, promotes lactation, and also help her with digestive disorders.
- Cumin tea can help to counter the effect of heaviness felt after heavy meals or overeating.
- The seeds are also roasted, ground, and added to dips, sauces, and curries for aroma, taste, and health benefits.
- In Ayurveda, its formulations are used to treat health disorders such as colitis, bloating, indigestion, abdominal pain, distention, and for detoxification.
Health Benefits of Cumin
The seeds promote gut health by keeping the antigens away. They have antimicrobial action against several harmful bacteria, yeast, and fungi as given below.
- Biofilm Escherichia coli
- Gram positive bacteria as: Bacillus subtilis
- Staphylococcus epidermidis
- Fungi as: Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger
- Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae).
Several studies have indicated that the powder of the seeds is beneficial for Diabetics. It lowers the blood sugar levels, increases insulin sensitivity, and also promotes secretion of insulin. The seeds have anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects, thus helping to flush the toxins out of the body systems.
- Studies showed that Cumin seeds diet can reduce the incidence of cervical cancer and stomach tumors.
- The seeds enhance functioning of the liver through secretion of enzymes as Glutathione-S- transferase enzyme. This promotes the metabolism and flushing of xenobiotics and carcinogens.
Antioxidant and Immune Boosting effects
- Cumin oil is rich in several phenolic compounds that have powerful antioxidant action.
- It has a scavenging effect of DPPH (1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl) radicles.
- It inhibits lipid peroxidation, which generates free radicals and also creates mutations in cells.
- One animal study showed that Cumin can boost immune system through modulation of T lymphocytes.
- Studies showed that Cumin essential oil can inhibit mRNA expression of inflammatory factors as cyclooxygenase 2 (COX 2) and interleukins 1 and 6.
- Cuminaldehyde in the seeds inhibits lipooxygenase pathway. This inhibits oxidation of the fats, hence reduces the inflammation and clogging caused by low density lipoproteins or bad cholesterol.
Central Nervous System effect
- Cumin has memory enhancing and anti-stress activities.
- Also, Cuminaldehyde showed to have inhibitory effect of fibrillation α-SN, which is a critical process in the pathophysiology of several neurodegenerative diseases, especially Parkinson’s disease.
- Cumin improves plasma nitric oxide and helps to decrease the systolic blood pressure, hence preventing hypertension.
- Cumin extract prevents platelet aggregation.
- Studies have shown that seeds powder reduces serum levels of fasting cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL, and increases HDL.
- It was also observed that the weight, BMI, waist circumference, and fat mass were also significantly reduced.
- Cumin enhances health of the gastrointestinal tract. It increases the production of gastric mucin, which strengthens gastric mucosal layer, hence preventing any damage or irritation.
- It also prevents the damage caused by allopathy medications such as paracetamol.
- Several studies show that cumin seeds can significantly reduce urinary calcium excretion.
- It also increases calcium content and mechanical strength of bones.